Original Research

Profile of acute poisoning in three health districts of Botswana

Mary Kasule, Ntambwe Malangu
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 1, No 1 | a10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v1i1.10 | © 2009 Mary Kasule, Ntambwe Malangu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 November 2008 | Published: 05 May 2009

About the author(s)

Mary Kasule, Institute of Health Sciences, Botswana
Ntambwe Malangu, University of Limpopo, South Africa

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Background: This study sought to characterise acute poisoning cases seen in three health districts of Botswana.

Method: A retrospective review of patients’ records was conducted and included patients treated from January 2004 to December 2005. Data on the demographic status of the patients, information about the poisonous agent(s) involved, and the circumstances and outcomes of the poisoning incidents were recorded on a pre-tested data collection form.

Results: A total of 590 cases of acute poisoning were included in the analysis. The most affected age category was that of children aged less than six years, who constituted 33.4% of the cases. Most incidents were recorded in the urban district of Gaborone. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the incidents were accidental, with the remainder being intentional. The poisonous agents involved were pharmaceuticals (26.6%), natural toxins (25.6%), household products (14.6%), foods (14.4%), alcohol (6.9%), traditional medicines (4.7%), unspecified agents (3.2%), and agrochemicals (2.7%). The most common route of poison exposure was by oral (82.2%), followed by dermal contact (16.5%), while the inhalation of gases occurred in 1.2% of cases. An incidence rate of 4.7/1000, a case fatality rate of 3.8/100, and 1.5% of deaths were recorded over the two-year period.

Conclusion: In conclusion, it can be stated that acute poisoning involved mainly young children and resulted in an incidence rate of 4.7/1000, a case fatality rate of 3.8/100, and 1.5% of deaths over the two-year period. There were differences based on age category, gender and residence of the victims, the types of toxic agents involved, as well as the circumstances and the outcomes of the poisoning incidents. Given the fact that pharmaceuticals, natural toxins, household products and foods were the agents most commonly involved, targeted interventions should take these differences into account in addressing the problem of acute poisoning.


acute poisoning; case fatality; outcome; Botswana; Gaborone


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